17 ways to get your children into the outdoors

50 things to do before you're 11¾. Go on a long bike ride. Photo: National Trust Images/Antony Mottershead 50 things to do before you're 11¾. Go on a long bike ride. Photo: National Trust Images/Antony Mottershead

Thursday, August 7, 2014
5:46 PM

Don’t deny your children or grandchildren an adventurous outdoor life, encourage them to reconnect with nature. The National Trust is committed to getting more children to enjoy the great outdoors. STACIA BRIGGS discovers a host of events where children can literally go wild.

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Top 10 ‘50-strong list’ activities

To prove that getting into the great outdoors doesn’t have to mean getting into a car, rangers from the charity have also identified the top 10 activities on the 50-strong list which can be done in a garden or a local park.

These are:

1) Climbing a tree.

2) Rolling down a big hill.

3) Building a den.

4) Runing around in the rain.

5) Picking blackberries.

6) Planting it, growing it, eating it.

7) Hunting for bugs.

8) Flying a kite.

9) Riding a bike.

10) Climbing a hill.

From bug-hunting to mud-pie making, night-time nature walks to learning how to be a rock pool ranger, adder adventures to owl prowls, this summer there’s no excuse for your children not to be inspired by nature.

The National Trust hopes to encourage 200,000 children to take part in outdoor fun this summer as part of its commitment to connect the “cotton wool generation” with nature.

By September, the UK conservation charity aims to have helped one in 20 of the UK’s seven to 12-year-olds break their reliance on gadgets and computers in order to experience the simple pleasures of outdoor adventure.

To mark the official start of its annual 50 Things to do Before You Are 11¾ campaign, the National Trust is hosting dozens of events in our region to help families experience nature.

"Not only does the loss of children’s outdoor play and contact with the natural world impact their growth and development, it also sets the stage for a continuing loss of the natural environment. We want to encourage children to care about nature, so it becomes part of their life as they grow up and they protect Britain’s special places for years to come."

Stuart Banks, east of England ranger for the National Trust

SOME OF THESE ARE:

• Summer fun at Blickling Estate

Child with a handheld GPS at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire. The GPS is used for the fun outdoor activity of digital treasure hunting where you follow co-ordinates or "waypoints" to find the hidden box of treasure.Child with a handheld GPS at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire. The GPS is used for the fun outdoor activity of digital treasure hunting where you follow co-ordinates or "waypoints" to find the hidden box of treasure.

Dates: Today and August 14

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Fun activities: create some wild art, go treasure hunting with the geocache trail or come along to one of the ‘plant it, grow it, eat it’ activity sessions. No booking required.

Child playing in a tree at Hatfield Forest, Essex. The forest is a rare surviving example of a Medieval Royal Hunting Forest and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve.Child playing in a tree at Hatfield Forest, Essex. The forest is a rare surviving example of a Medieval Royal Hunting Forest and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve.

• Wild Wednesdays, Brancaster Estate

Dates: More than a dozen dates up until October 29

Price: No additional charges

Join the NT team for a day of 50 Things-themed family fun on the Norfolk Coast. From bug hunting to mud pie making, hold a scary beast or track a wild animal, stay for as little or as long as you like, there’s no pressure. Grab your scrapbook and start ticking off your adventures. Meet at Brancaster Staithe Harbour (PE31 8BW), look out for flags and staff. Times vary, so check with venue before setting out. Booking is a must.

The National Trust Blakeney Point. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYThe National Trust Blakeney Point. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

• Terrific Tuesdays, Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Dates: Various dates up to October 28

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Youngsters find a crab while out exploringYoungsters find a crab while out exploring

Join the team for a day of 50 things themed family fun on the Norfolk Coast. Sorry, no dogs. Book in advance and ask for times, groups meet at Blakeney Quay.

• ‘Things to Do’ Thursdays, Sheringham Park

Dates: 12 dates between today and October 30

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Different activities available each day, booking is advised.

• Adder Adventure, Sheringham Park

Dates: Tomorrow and August 19 at 10.30am

Price: Adult £2.25 (accompanying), child £4.25

Adders are shy, but the Trust knows of some places in the park where they can be seen if you are lucky! Includes a talk about British reptiles. Booking essential.

• The Twilight Zone Nature Night Walk, Heigham Holmes

Dates: Saturday, 8pm

Price: Adult £6, child £3

A night-time walk in search of owls, moths, bats and other creatures of the night. Listen to bats with the aid of a bat detector and inspect the light traps for amazing moths. Watch the antics of Barn Owls on ‘Barn Owl Cam’. Suitable for older children.

Booking essential.

• Heigham Holmes Open Day, Heigham Holmes

Dates: Sunday, 11am

Price: No additional charges

A family event: activities include live picture from the barn owl camera, face painting, pond dipping, snail racing (2.30pm) a self-guided trail, and more.

• Rockpool Ranger, Sheringham Park

Dates: Next Tuesday, 2.15pm and August 13, 3pm

Price: Adult £2.25 (accompanying), child £4.25

From Sheringham seafront explore the tidal pools and beach to find some amazing marine life. Go digging for worms, netting for shrimps and catching crabs! Includes a walk of around one mile with some rough ground. Booking essential.

• Terrific Tuesdays in the Dark, Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Dates: Next Tuesday, 7.30pm and October 28, 5.45pm

Price: Adult £3.50, child £1.50

Join the rangers for a 50 Things night walk on the Norfolk Coast. The walk will include bat-detecting, moth-trapping and, weather permitting, star-gazing. Please book in advance.

• 50 Things Family Activities

Dunwich Heath and Beach

Dates: Until September 3, 11am to 3pm

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Come and try the 50 Things to do before you are 11 3/4, you can experience many activities like bug hunting, pond dipping and geocaching. Collect your stickers and have lots of fun. On Tuesday and Thursday there will be some Ranger-led activities.

• Wild Wednesdays in the Dark, Brancaster Estate

Dates: August 13, 7.30pm and October 22, 5.45pm

Price: Adult £3.50, child £1.50

Tick off numbers 27 (Go Star Gazing), 31 (Hunt for Bugs) and 40 (Go on a nature walk at night) from the list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4. Booking essential.

• Out and about Wednesdays, Ickworth

Dates: August 13, 11am

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Have fun making nature arts and crafts, leaf rubbings and explore the hollow tree near the play area. Complete number 22 of your 50 Things challenge.

• Bat walk and talk, Ickworth

Dates: August 19, 8pm

Price: Adult £10, child £5

Discover the difference between the calls of a Pipistrelle and a Daubenton’s, learn about their habitat and what we can do to improve it. Understand why Ickworth is one of the premier bat sites in the UK. End the evening with a hot chocolate and a chat with experts. Booking essential.

• Out and about Wednesdays, Ickworth

Dates: August 20, 11am

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Have a magical time in the enchanted stumpery. Listen to stumpery stories and make your own magical wand, daisy chains and other fairy crafts. Run around barefoot in the grass, you’ll never want to put your shoes back on when you feel the tickly grass between your toes! Complete numbers 16 and 24 of your 50 Things challenge.

• Batty Bats and Mad Moths, Sheringham Park

Dates: August 26, 7pm

Price: Adult £2.25 (accompanying), child £4.25

Go in search of bats with a bat detector and have a go at moth-trapping. Great for families with younger children. Includes a walk of about two miles. Booking essential.

• Out and about Wednesdays, Ickworth

Dates: August 27, 11am

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Time to make a splash. There’ll be games on the lawn and have fun on the obstacle course, who can get the fastest time? Complete number 6 of your 50 Things challenge.

• Owl Prowl, Sheringham Park

Dates: September 19, 6:30pm

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

Dissect an owl pellet to see what owls eat and learn to call like an owl. Then venture out as dusk falls to listen for tawny owls, which are particularly active at this time of year. Should be a hoot! Booking essential.

See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on for further details of the bookable special activity days noted here.

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